“Fawlty Towers” revived at Carte Blanche
"Fawlty Towers," the hilarious British TV comedy from the 1970s, works live on stage.
Fawlty Towers, John Cleese’s screamingly funny BBC sitcom from the 1970s, lives again at Milwaukee’s Carte Blanche Theatre. Carte Blanche has recreated three episodes of the show and has recreated the set of the hapless British resort hotel in impressive detail.
“A Touch of Class” is the pilot episode of Fawlty Towers. It effectively introduces the characters and their individual quirks. The frantically stressed-out Basil Fawlty (Anthony Wood) and his bossy wife, Sybil (Michelle White), butt heads as Basil attempts to lure upper crust guests to their hotel. Meanwhile, the chaos of running the establishment prevents him from maintaining appearances, not to mention his ever-floundering composure. This humor turns on the quick pace of the writing and plot. The actors, under direction of John Baiocchi, kept up the pace, but scene transitions bog down the show. Frequent blackouts and a lowered video screen disrupt the pace.
The second sketch, “Hotel Inspectors,” follows Basil as he does everything in his power to impress hotel inspectors at the cost to his other guests (James Dragolovich, Emily Craig and Chris B. Goode in multiple roles) and, at times, his sanity. This sketch progresses seamlessly and consequently makes over a half hour feel like a few moments.
The screen descends and credits roll after a curtain call. That’s a mistake; the screen killed the enthusiastic applause. And I suspect that most in the house missed the little jokes embedded in the credits, as they flew by.
Fawlty Towers runs through March 3 at Carte Blanche. Tickets are $20 online or call (414) 455-3279.